The workforce has changed, and management has to follow. With 1/3 of the United States workforce working from home, many managers need to learn new management tactics and rethink their management entirely. Work from home seems to be here to stay, so we must innovate. In a typical office environment, traditional management enforcement is straight forward. If there is a reason to monitor or address an employee, you can see their work throughout the day and address any topics in person. In a remote work environment, this is different. As of now, there is no “norm,” and the jury seems to be out as to how to handle employees, and whether or not even to keep them at home in the long term.
The effectiveness of work from home policies from a productivity standpoint is still unknown. Recent news sources have claimed work from home policies have seen an increase in productivity. A May 2020 article from Forbes claimed productivity increased by 47%. A March 2020 CNBC article claimed people were generally more productive at some tasks and less at others. Articles prior to 2020 generally seem to state that employees were less productive working from home. Some items, such as social interaction, seem to be difficult or impossible for some to achieve at home, while others cite technologies such as Zoom meetings making these things possible. With opinions and statistics varying, we all can agree that there is no general rule of thumb. The next few years will provide key statistical insight as to whether or not this trend is a short term reaction, or a long term foundational change.
When the virus first broke out in Spring 2020, most employees were forced into their homes, and managers forced to learn on the fly how to handle this. Fortunately, technology had already existed to support work from home management. Employers and managers found that some employees excelled during this process, some did not, and many they simply did not know. This fear of the unknown has pushed a smaller industry of employee remote productivity monitoring at the forefront of the current business society. A variety of software options now exist to allow this managing to occur and keep your employees focused. Features include a variety of items:
- GPS location monitoring
- Employee rankings for who is spending most of their time on certain websites (such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Time Analysis
- Time spent on social media
- Time spent in CRM systems
- Time spent on email
- Time spent browsing the internet
- Time spent using specific software
- Number of calls made
- Time active in CRM systems
- Productivity scores
- Periodic screenshots of on-screen activity
Workers are aware they are being watched and will have the opportunity to adjust their behavior as they can access these monitoring tools to track what their employer sees and an opportunity to self-manage. Privacy laws currently permit these actions, so employers can rest easy they are not violating any laws.
Like any software package, there are a variety of options in terms of quality and depth. Still, all are generally much less expensive than most anticipate while providing real, measurable return on investment data.